As the first month of the new year draws closer to its end, transfer deadline day is fast approaching.
But that doesn't mean the first 27 days of January haven't been hectic enough. A number of Premier League clubs have made reinforcements in key areas and that presents Fantasy Premier League fanatics with some exciting new options, particularly those who have yet to activate their January wildcard.
Some signings appear to be certainties to rake in the points on a regular basis, while there are others the smart lot would look to avoid. Here's a look at the best and worst of the January signings so far, strictly from a fantasy football perspective.
Snap 'em up-Players to bring in
The purchase of Mata is a major upgrade in the midfield department for Manchester United. While he was out-of-favor at Chelsea, the Spaniard is likely to an important cog in the wheel for his new side.
Just a glance at his stats from last season is enough to understand his fantasy football potential when starting week in, week out. Moreover, four of United's next five opponents currently lie 14th or further down in the table.
Owned by a mere 6 percent of all FPL players, Mata could be a key differential for those looking to steal a march on their rivals in private leagues. Priced at £9.4m, he's also a cheaper alternative to the likes of Eden Hazard, Yaya Toure and Mesut Ozil.
Marcos Alonso (Sunderland)
Signed from Fiorentina on loan until the end of the 2013-14 season, Alonso has already cemented his spot as a member of Gus Poyet's first-choice back line. He's played the full 90 minutes in each of the Black Cats' last two league games, while also featuring in every minute of Sunderland's two-legged Capital One Cup semifinal triumph over Man United.
Sunderland defenders are becoming popular fantasy football selections as a result of their rising potential to bag clean sheets under new management.
Next up for Alonso are two home games against goal-shy Stoke and Hull City, and sandwiched in between them is a local derby versus Newcastle at St James' Park. However, even as he comes in at just £4.5m, Alonso can only be seen as a short-term buy. Those games are followed by a series of difficult trips to title-chasing clubs.
Hold your horses-Wait and watch
Magnus Wolff Eikrem (Cardiff City)
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had genuine words of praise for compatriot Eikrem after the Norwegian international signed from Heerenveen. Clearly, he rates the 23-year-old highly.
The fact of the matter, though, is that Eikrem has only featured for a total of 39 minutes over the past two league games and will take some time to bed in. Valued at £5.0m, he is one to watch, as evidenced by the assist he grabbed against Manchester City in a brief cameo at the Etihad Stadium.
For now, though, the likes of Jordan Mutch (£4.6m) and Craig Noone (£4.3m) represent cheaper-yet-more-reliable fantasy prospects from the basement club.
Aiden McGeady (Everton)
The skillful McGeady accumulated as many as six assists in 13 league games for former employers Spartak Moscow in 2013-14, although he scored just one goal over that stretch. On his full debut for Everton in the FA Cup tie at Stevenage, too, he managed to set up the opening goal of the match.
Available at £6.0m on FPL, the pacy winger is a viable alternative to another Everton midfielder, £7.2m-valued Belgian Kevin Mirallas. Once he settles in, he's likely to get a lot of playing time, especially as Ross Barkley, Bryan Oviedo and Steven Pienaar are all sidelined presently.
One cannot ignore the fact that Everton's next few home games make for good reading. Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, West Ham, Cardiff City and Swansea are the next five teams in line to visit the Toffees, who are formidable at Goodison Park.
A potential assist-machine, McGeady is a player you're definitely going to want to look out for.
(Stats courtesy Transfermarkt)
Others to keep an eye on
Nikica Jelavic (Hull, £6.9m), Grant Holt (Aston Villa, £5.5m), Ryan Bertrand (Aston Villa, £4.4m)
Steer clear-Players to avoid
Not many are privy to the fact that Dempsey ended the 2011-12 campaign as the top point-getter amongst midfielders in FPL, notching up 17 goals and seven assists for Fulham that season.
That said, his exploits back then are of little relevance now. His current owners are the Seattle Sounders and he's back at Craven Cottage on a two-month loan. Since signing with the MLS outfit in August 2013, he has managed to find the back of the net just once in 12 appearances.
Not only is he no longer a fantasy goldmine, Dempsey also doesn't have favorable fixtures coming his way. Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea are amongst struggling Fulham's next six opponents. At a price of £7.4m, he's much too expensive for the kind of returns one can realistically anticipate for the American.
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
Serbian international Matic is right up there with the best defensive midfielders on the planet right now. His acquisition by Chelsea is seen as a major coup and many, including fellow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Allan Jiang, reckon he could be the Blues' answer to Manchester City's Yaya Toure.
Not in terms in fantasy points he isn't. At least that's what the statistical evidence would suggest. In 23 competitive games this term, Matic has just three goals. Usually deployed as a holding midfielder, his endeavors have never yielded him eye-catching returns in terms of goals and assists.
His disciplinary record is another case in point. In 14 Primeira Liga games for Benfica in 2013-14, he received six cautions.
And so, it's fair to say there are better alternatives to the man priced at £6.0m on the official Fantasy Premier League game.
(Stats courtesy Transfermarkt)
John Guidetti (Stoke)
Guidetti was notably prolific for Feyenoord in the Dutch Eredivisie last season. However, as we've seen before with the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Afonso Alves, Salomon Kalou and, more recently, Jozy Altidore, it doesn't necessarily mean he can replicate that scoring rate in England.
While he's available at £5.0m, there are numerous other cheap forwards worth considering ahead of Guidetti, including his new Stoke teammate, lanky striker Peter Crouch (£5.5m).
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